Trauma Dumping on my Tinder Date
I tell you about salting slugs
on my old house’s front walkway.
Mid-summer, Old Navy flip
flops, headlamps that won’t stay put—
jolting spotlights on their shriveling
forms. Slippery ghosts left in their place.
Every source calls this a slow, painful
death of dehydration; my brother
and I were young, believed we were defeating
evil, taking turns shaking the Morton.
Are you so blameless?
My brother’s hair was at his shoulders
because he’d thrash and scream
in every barber’s chair. He’s always
been difficult. When is life easy?
I’m already waiting for the phone call
that it’s over. It’s the vilest
part of me. I’m cold and tired.
It’s too easy to run out of forgiveness.
Is that what you wanted to know?
Mom claims I give my whole entire self each
time, labels my love sin. I’m excess, Carrie
all wild and wronged at prom; my peers all screech
and run. I can’t see through the blood. Then, weary
I return home, unzip my stained pale dress,
and bathe in my own rage. My face raw, Mom
suggests I wait until it all hurts less.
In dreams, I’m our back porch wolf spider: calm,
despite my aching hunger. I wish to weave
a shining tapestry that will ensnare.
I’m never close to subtle; my pain deceives
no one, a crowd all aching and aware.
My hurt and shame get tangled, make desire;
I let it all go up in flames, a pyre.
Lorton Village Apartments
There’s an Arby’s sign shaped like a giant cowboy hat outside my bedroom window. When you’ve stared at the paint on the wall long enough, any light can feel like hope. Maybe because this strip of road has such an eternal legacy, my place here will always feel temporary. Transitional like the blinking ROAST BEEF beckons me to pivot towards warmth. I walk in the pale February, consider blocking out the sun with my pinkie finger: parallax. I can’t imagine anything better or worse than whole-hearted devotion. My addictions just failed attempts at preservation. I smoke in the morning, cough up the aftertaste of his tongue in my mouth. The sun launches its delicate arc through every kind of sky, and the Arby’s sign blinks in its absence. For now I trust I’m performing the right rituals.